My Ultimate Pre-College Guide for Parents of Freshman

Getting ready to send your child off to college this summer? Know someone who has a pre-frosh? This post is for you. All of the tips I give soon to be freshman:


Some stand-up about going to college, don’t get stressed about this, it will all be fine!

To Do Pre-Departure:

1. Engrave and Label: Engrave your ipod, phone, computer, rings– pretty much anything and everything of value. You also want to label clothes with your initials and put your name in your books when you get them! Books are like cash–anyone can pick them up and re-sell them for a hefty buck.

2. Make a Master List: This is not often thought about, but you are going to be bringing a lot–a lot of stuff with you and leaving some things back home. Keep a list of what you are packing to keep track and make a list of the stuff you are leaving at home so you know what you do not need to bring home over breaks (its better to come home with just a carry-on because now they are charging per bag!).

3. Photocopy Everything in Your Wallet: You might lose it and it is always good to have a copy of your gym card, Blockbuster card, old student ID, credit Cards, ID etc. Give your parents a copy of the cards and keep some papers yourself.

4. Copy Phone Numbers: If you do not have a phone that backs up onto your computer, write down all of the numbers in your phone before you go and put it in your calendar to update this list once a month–all of my friends dropped their phone in the toilet at least once and lost all of their numbers!

5. If you have a Car:

-Consider getting an Audible Alarm or Motion Sensor Detector on the back of your car, when your roommate borrows your car they might need it.

-Get smart keys so your vehicle cannot be started without you or if you want to get in your car quickly it automatically unlocks.

-Always have a disposable camera in the glove box in case of accidents.

6. Get A Journal: A Great Moleskin Notebook You are going to have a lot of memories to record

7. Get a Back-up Method for Computer

I do not care what you use, just get something to automatically back-up your computer once a week or at the end of each day. You will have a computer crash at some point, and you DO NOT want to lose all of your papers.

8. Make a List with Product ID, serial number and model of things that are valuable

Just in case something gets stolen you can have the info of your product kept somewhere to report it.

9. Change your Car Insurance

If you are leaving you can get a cheaper plan for less usage! Also if you are driving it in a different state you might need to change your coverage.

10. Get a Laptop Lock

11. Program Your Phone

Program in campus police numbers, taxi cab (at least 3) numbers into your phone and a ICE (in case of emergency contact) before you leave

12. Register to vote absentee before you leave

13. Get a Jewelry Box that Locks

14. Learn How to Do Laundry

Books I Like:

Dorm Room Diet and the Dorm Room Diet Planner by Daphne Oz. Great log of eating tips, workout tips and general healthy dorm living.

Protect Yourself at College by Thomas Kane Some really interesting tips in this one that I hadn’t thought about!

When Your Kid Goes to College: A Parent’s Survival Guide by Carol Barkin

A Girl’s Guide to College: Making the Most of the Best Four Years of Your Life by Traci Maynigo

Getting the Best Out of College: A Professor, a Dean, & a Student Tell You How to Maximize Your Experience by Peter Feaver, Sue Wasiolek, and Anne Crossman

Packing and Pre-Ordering:

DO NOT PACK AND BUY AS SOON AS YOU GET THERE: Detergent (unless its special), ziploc bags, paper towels, garbage bags, envelopes, batteries and a lanyard string for your keys…all things I should have bought immediately but didn’t think about until later.

This is list is not the obvious socks and PJs, but things you might forget on the way to college.

Consider getting a Micro-Fridge

Ear plugs

Shower shoes

Carrying case for toiletr

Mini ToolKit (pliers, hammer, screwdriver, scissors, duct tape)

USB Flash Drive


2 Responses to “My Ultimate Pre-College Guide for Parents of Freshman”

  1. Tom Kane
    June 10, 2008 at 11:14 am #

    Hi Vanessa,

    A well written article packed with great advice! Especially, that new book Protect Yourself at College. It’s a great book. I mean…since I’m the author…what more can I say. HA!

    Actually, all the books you mentioned are very helpful and your tips are right on the mark. Thank you for writing this piece which I am certain will help many students…and parents.

    Thank you also for mentioning that you liked my book!


    Tom Kane

  2. Prescott Perez-Fox
    June 11, 2008 at 8:41 pm #

    This is a pretty comprehensive list and generally I agree. One thing I would add is to have some sort of shelving system, but no necessarily those fancy-pants plastic cube things from Bed, Bath & Beyond. An old milk crate or even a sturdy cardboard box can do wonders.

    Buy showers before you leave. You need that on day zero because chances are the place will get dirty just from everyone moving about and kicking up dust.

    Also, if possible, don’t buy as much stuff as you’d instinctively try to do. You don’t need a garbage bin (again, cardboard box) or a some cutesy pen holder. The school and various sponsors will give you tons of crap during the first week, so use as much as you can. And wait as long as possible to buy things like a corkboard. You’ll figure out soon enough what you truly _need_.

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